April 22, 2021
Have you been wanting to start hiring people onto your team but you’re lost as to where to start?? Well, we have a treat for you today. We get to talk to the INCREDIBLE Dee Ann Turner.
Author and speaker, Dee Ann is the former vice president of talent for Chick-fil-A, where she helped shape the company’s historically remarkable culture. With over 35 years of experience, she has unparalleled insight and experience in talent acquisition, career and leadership development, and organizational culture. She’s written 3 books FULL of information about creating remarkable company cultures, winning the hearts of customers, how to build a business that makes good decisions and lasts. Her third and most recent book, Crush Your Career talks about how to ace the interview, land the job, and launch your future: taking all of her experience in talent acquisition and management and giving you ALL that information so YOU can crush your career. Dee Ann is incredible and is now using all of her experience to mentor and lead organizations and people on how to be extraordinary.
If you’re a business owner, you’ll walk away from this episode understanding how to build a remarkable company culture, how to find and develop extraordinary people on your team, how to interview people well to FIND those people, and so much more.
If you’re in the job market and looking to build a successful, fulfilling career, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of how to find a company with a mission you align with, how to interview well and what your interviewers are likely looking for.
Starting with what did Dee Ann want to be when she grew up. Well, she wanted to be a writer, from the time she was eight years old it was her dream. Growing up she wrote poems and she even wrote a book when she was thirteen as an unpublished novel for a class at school. Then she was editor and chief at her high school newspaper and even wrote song lyrics for a band. She pursued all these things in writing and then went off to study journalism. Well like a lot of young people today when she left college it was in the middle of a recession. The economic times were really bad and times were scarce. Journalism was not going to be a great way for her to make a living at that time. Even though she wanted to be a writer, she didn’t know enough or have enough life experience that anybody would truly be interested in what she had to say at the time. So she ended up going the advertising route trying to find a way to use those journalism skills.
Working a short time in the advertising field and decided she didn’t like the cutthroat environment of the firm and wanted to get on the client-side of things. While looking for jobs in advertising, in a very long story short, she ended up applying for a job at Chick-Fil-A. As it turns out they turned her down immediately, the first time she applied. She applied again and they turned her down again. The second time she was intrigued, who were these people that kept turning her down? Dee Ann became very persistent. Finally, through some circumstances, she got connected about a job at Chick-Fil-A in advertising. They had her come in an interview and she interviewed and interviewed. She interviewed for months and then almost at the final interview, the vice president of human resources says, “You’re probably going to get this job in advertising, but I have a job in human resources would you be interested?”.
Let’s pause here for a moment, because we have moments when they are happening, that we have no idea what their long-term impact is going to be. When you have those questions pop up, it’s good to go “Is this one of those moments that is going to change my life forever?”. This was. So she went home and in all her naivety decided to take that job and work in human resources for a couple of years and then she would know where the jobs were and go back to marketing and that is where she would spend her career. Well 18 months into that job, the man who hired her resigned, and she worked directly for him as his assistant. He was gone and the company was trying to figure out what to do with her. They kept looking for where she was going to go next, but she didn’t get really caught up in what they were doing because her former boss had taught her a lot and was already involved in creating something the company needed. They didn’t have any systems for selecting their time corporate staff so resumes were floating all over the place and people didn’t get responded to. Dee Ann was working on fixing that problem as they were figuring out what to do with her.
Finally, this was months along, they realized she was doing something they needed her to do, so they decided to keep her doing it. They promoted her and that begins in earnest her career in human resources.
About two years into she thought she had abandoned her calling which was to write but then she realized that her calling was to help other people find their calling. For the next thirty years, she began to do something that she loved every single day and that was finding and keeping extraordinary talent for Chick-Fil-A. Whether that was corporate staff or their franchisees.
Then finally in 2018, Chic-Fil-A offered a group of long-term tenured people to take an early retirement and she was very much on the younger end of that and didn’t expect she would make that decision. But she had a book contract from Bakers Books to write two more books, so life had come full circle. She decided to make the leap and dive in and was fearful but overcame it and jumped in. And now she is living the life she dreamed of.
A lot of people know this role as human resources, somewhere along the way Dee Ann decided that she didn’t like the term “human resources”. Other people called it people. She liked the idea of talent because, at Chic Fil A, that’s what we had and what she believes they still have. That is talent. Extraordinary talent at all levels. Certainly beginning with exceptional team members, and the franchisees themselves, and then the support staff. That’s what it means when they call it talent because they aren’t just people and certainly aren’t just an asset like human resources.
In a growth company like Chic Fil A, the number one role was selecting the talent. We were growing, when she went to Chic Fil A they were at 175 million dollars in sales and about 150 restaurants and when she left the role they were at 10 billion dollars in sales and about 2,000 restaurants. Tremendous growth during that time and interviewed ten of thousands of candidates and selected thousands of people during her time. That was a big part of the role but then it grew because when she first started that was all human resources did was selection. But then there were a lot of other needs once you start scaling a company like that. It began to include other things, not just talent acquisition but also talent development, management, performance management, culture engagement, diversity inclusion, and all of those functions for the organization. It was a huge growth opportunity to go from where it started to where it ended up.
A lot of times people think about culture and they think about the warm squishy things that happen in your organization. It’s the company outings and those types of things, but those are just behaviors that flow out of everything else.
The heart of the culture is simply this:
When you put all those three ingredients together this meaningful purpose and a compelling mission and demonstrating core values then you create a remarkable culture. Dee Ann never hired people, she selected talent and there is a big difference in that. There is a huge difference. Hiring people is all about quantity, do you have enough? When you think about selecting talent, that is different. Selecting talent is about the quality, do you have the right people with the right skills in the right roles doing the right things to win the hearts of your customers. That’s what you’re trying to do.
This advice is also for the people who don’t work in an organization like that, what can you do about it? Well, you can start where you are. If you are beginning to lead a team or a new business or are looking at your culture and saying this is not working. The first thing to do to get buy-in is to include everybody in the decision-making. Bring them in and figure out your why. Why are you here? Why do you exist? What is the big why that will get you out of bed excited for your role for the difference it is going to make not in the organization but what value it has in the world? Especially millennials and GenZ they are looking to make an impact and something bigger than themselves. If you want to attract them to both your marketplace and business then you’re going to have to have a strong why and they’re going to have to be bought in. Make them a part of the conversation.
Then secondly, get an agreement on what big role you are trying to accomplish together. How else are they going to work towards a goal they didn’t help create. Bringing them into that is important. Again the conversation is let’s talk about these core values. Core values are not a set of words, for a lot of organizations it is but it is more of a clearly stated action.
A couple of Chic Fil A’s are “We’re here to serve” and you see it demonstrated in every single level of the organization in different ways. People work to out serve one another and you see it demonstrated. They have another one that is “We pursue what’s next”, which is their nod to innovation. If you think that’s not important think about what just happened with Covid. So when that happened and all the restaurants were shut down except drive-thru or delivery and all these organizations were having to figure out how to do that, with no knowledge of Covid coming Chic Fil A had already figured it out. They already had the number one mobile app, they had already figured out how to take orders with Ipads and have this amazing drive-thru service that so many people have experienced because they pursue what’s next. They were already looking ahead to what might be needed. They didn’t necessarily know the why but they knew that something would be needed in the future to speed up service or provide better service and they were ready for it. You want to engage people in helping develop those core values.
So what do you do with a new employee, where you have already done all this and have it in place. Well hopefully if you’ve done your job right you’ve selected people that match your culture. So it’s no big surprise what your mission, why and core values are because you’ve already talked about that in the interview process, you’ve looked at their background and asked behavioral interview-style questions that have uncovered what their purpose is their mission, and their core values and they told you how they mesh with the organization’s culture. Then once they get there you have to be intentional about teaching them how these things are lived out every day.
You’ve got to start with your culture and your role and the team this person is going to be a part of and define all those things. When Dee Ann is selecting talent she looks for these patterns of things. If somebody is going to work in her business she wants them to have a heart for service because if you own a business you are serving somebody. You’re serving the customer or you’re serving somebody who directly serves the customer, and you’re serving each other in the business.
Another thing she looks for is a track record of decision-making. Regardless of what it was, whether it was about college or previous jobs, volunteer activities, whatever it was. She is looking at what kind of decisions people make. Why did they decide to do things? If they had performance issues what did they do about them? Take college, for example, not everybody performed at their best level, well that’s part of growing up, but what she is interested in is what they learn from that and the decisions they made to correct the course. Understanding you can have some things you look for but then you have to understand what’s really behind it. If somebody makes good personal decisions in their life, you are expecting they will make good decisions for your business as well.
Then she is looking for forward-thinking people. That is where everything is, in the future. While they can describe to me what they’ve done in the past, she wants to know what their vision is for the future and their plan of getting there. Whether it’s their future or how they see the role they are interviewing for or their opinion of your company and how they might envision the future. Look for people who are seeing and shaping the future.
Have a plan for interviewing, for a couple of reasons. One you need a plan because you need to get the information you need to make a good decision. Secondly, without a plan, you’re more likely to get yourself into some legal issues when interviewing. You don’t want to go into an interview without a plan because you might wander all over the place and the next thing you know, you’ve wandered into something that might cause you some issues.
Ask behavioral-based interview questions, for anyone who might not be familiar with a behavioral-based interview question, you are looking for evidence from the past that helps you predict the future performance of the person. You are going to ask the kind of questions that they have to answer with an example or a story.
The framework is simply this, ask questions about culture, if the individual’s character matches the culture of the organization. Be looking for that. Look for their purpose, mission, and values in that discussion.
Secondly, you are going to be looking at their competency, does their competency match the role and not just the role they are interviewing, do they have competencies in roles that you are going to grow in the future.
The third thing you are looking for is chemistry that matches the team. Now that doesn’t mean everybody comes together and holds hands and sings kumbaya. The most important thing that happens with good chemistry in an organization is when you can select people that can come into a team and bring their diverse points of view, collaborate well with that team, and collaborate so well that they influence everybody else on that team. That is great chemistry.
If you go to www.deeannturner.com there is a download of her 25 top behavioral interview questions. Aimed at anybody in the service-based industry. They are very generalized and not specific to roles.
Dee Ann thinks of her mentor Jimmy Collins and the amazing things he taught her. He taught her it’s kindness to refuse immediately what you eventually intend to deny. She has used that in every part of her life. He also taught her that humility does not mean to think less of yourself but it’s to not think of yourself at all.
This leads to her advice which is this. When you leave this earth you are gone, we think about the things we can’t take with us. We think about possessions and material things, but you can’t take it with you, any of it. Including the knowledge that you have and information that you have to help another person. One of the things as an author that she has been truly blessed with is that people who are willing to say “I will send out an email to my email list”, “I’ll have you on my podcast”, “I’ll post something on my social media for you”. It’s them giving away, they have this abundance mentality where they have enough for everybody and that’s what she encourages you with. That is what is important, when you think about what you are going to leave behind it’s not so much your money or material wealth but what you invested in your time and talent in other people. Don’t leave here holding onto any of it, give it away.
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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